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COVID-19: A disease that also affects your ears?

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COVID19

COVID-19: Researchers are trying to figure out how COVID-19 affects our body.

 

COVID-19 may seem to have slightly calmed down than before, as the Go To travel campaign officially took off at the end of July throughout Japan with the exception of Tokyo. The ongoing spread of infections, however, still leaves us no room for optimism.

Recently, there was surprising news related to this pandemic and ears.

JAMA, or the Journal of the American Medical Association, which is widely regarded as one of the five top medical journals of the world, reported the coronavirus was found in a patient’s ears.

If the virus was found from inside one’s ears, does that mean people may get infected through their ears?

COVID-19 is a disease with much left to be discovered, but there have already been reports of aftereffects. I searched deeper to see if the virus could cause damage to the hearing organs. 

Writer

Author:Riyo Aomoto

Global Writer


Can we get COVID-19 through our ears?

“You might get infected with COVID-19 through your ears” -- hearing this may frighten you.

As your ear and throat are connected,  also both areas are covered by otolaryngologists, often called ear, nose and throat doctors, it does not surprise us if they are correlated.

According to JAMA, research conducted by the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery has shown COVID-19 was identified in the middle ear and mastoid from 3 postmortem dissections.

While no report has documented COVID-19 infection by otolaryngologists as a result of middle ear procedures, the research suggests otolaryngologists and otologists/neurotologists are at risk for contracting COVID-19 with middle ear and mastoid procedures.

It seems that being exposed to COVID-19 through otological surgeries on affected patients is the risk, as opposed to a direct infection through the ears.

The relationship between COVID-19 and hearing ability

High temperature, coughs and inertia.

At first sight, symptoms widely observed under COVID-19 are difficult to distinguish from common cold.

At the same time, there are reports of COVID-19 aftereffects including minor fever, inertia and breathing difficulty.

Have there been any reports of aftereffects on ears and hearing ability?-

The University of Manchester in the UK collaborated with NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Center and conducted research on the relationship between COVID-19 and auditory ability. They released their findings at the end of July.

According to their phone survey, out of the 120 patients who were hospitalized in the UK for COVID-19 infection, 13 percent of the respondents noted a deterioration in their hearing ability. Eight people said they were suffering from tinnitus.

Professor Kevin Munro, a professor of audiology at the University of Manchester who was directly involved in the survey, says that measles and other viruses are known to possibly cause hearing loss and that COVID-19 could damage the nerves related to one’s hearing ability.

In the meantime, Professor Munro also adds that causes other than COVID-19 such as stress, anxiety and wearing masks could have an affect on the people’s hearing ability.

Apparently, COVID-19 is not considered to affect ears and hearing ability in ways that are different from other viruses.

 

Author’s note 

Seven months have passed since COVID-19, a virus feared as “invisible pandemic,” started to spread full scale in Japan.

Many people may have become accustomed to the “new norms” of avoiding the three Cs and putting on a mask throughout the day.

New York Times reports the US government is rushing to prepare vaccines so they can start distribution in November. There are of course concerns whether the safety of those vaccines has been fully verified.

We should closely examine the information we read while protecting ourselves and our ears from this mysterious disease.

References

 JAMA Otolaryngology–”Head & Neck Surgery,Implications for COVID-19 Precautions During Ear Surgery”、2020

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